Damascus daily blasts Bush's comments about Assad

Editorial in 'Tishrin' says US president determined to steer Lebanon "toward anarchy, similar to Iraq and Afghanistan."

bush hariri 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
bush hariri 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - US President George W. Bush's remarks last week that he has lost patience with Syrian President Bashar Assad are arrogant and bode ill for the region, a Syrian newspaper said Monday. An editorial in the government-sponsored Tishrin daily said Bush's statements demonstrated that his administration is determined to end its term "as it started, with aggression, occupation and power." Bush, at a press conference on Thursday, criticized Assad and called on him to stop interfering in Lebanese politics. "My patience ran out on President Assad a long time ago," Bush said. "And the reason why is because he houses Hamas, he facilitates Hezbollah, suiciders go from his country to Iraq, and he destabilizes Lebanon," he said. "Syria needs to let the process in Lebanon work," Bush added, sharply rejecting any dialogue with the Damascus. Relations between Syria and the United States had appeared to warm briefly, following Syria's attendance of last month's Annapolis peace conference. But both sides have since lashed out at one another, each accusing the other of meddling in Lebanese affairs. Lebanon is going through its worst political crisis since the end of the 1975-90 civil war and has been without a president since November 23. Tishrin said Bush's statements underlined the defeats that his administration has suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his failures to deal with the Lebanese crisis and Iran's nuclear program. "These arrogant and threatening statements point to more defeats by the Bush administration than anything else," the newspaper said. "They do not bode well for any rational US policy or serious intention to handle the region's issues." The newspaper accused Bush of seeking to push Lebanon "toward anarchy, similar to Iraq and Afghanistan" and claimed the American leader was determined to "give Israel more support than it has gotten from any previous (US) administration." In Lebanon, the pro-Syria, Hizbullah-led opposition has boycotted a parliament vote to elect the country's next president, plunging Damascus's neighbor into a political vacuum. The Western-backed, anti-Syrian bloc has avoided trying to use its slim majority in parliament to elect a president, which would escalate tensions with the opposition. But Bush in his speech Thursday for the first time urged Lebanon's anti-Syrian lawmakers to push through their own choice for president if necessary, to resolve the long political deadlock.